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Bill Morrison \ Decasia

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

The list of found footage artists is not complete without mentioning the avant-garde filmmaker Bill Morrison. Since the early 1990's, Morrison has been making films by looking to the past for inspiration. His interest was centred in imagery that looked old and decaying, he started by using drain cleaner to distress his footage so that it resembled film from the past. Morrison then began to salvage films from archives that were actually old and decaying, to edit them together to make his experimental compositions.

Within his films he he brings focus to the many ways that the films shows the countless ways in which film shows the impressions of time passing. The early film stock that he works with is mainly made up of a nitro-cellulose base which gradually decomposes, and as the fixing chemicals weaken, the imagery becomes distorted, mottled and looks like it is being eaten by some kind of algae. Like the way I am using the code art to consumer my imagery, Morrison capitalises on these evocative effects, and like me, has likened the disappearing images to memories decomposing and being lost.

His 2003 film Decasia is made up of the decaying fragments of pre-1950's nitrate footage which have been obfuscated and warped with time all set to the obsessive, eerie score created by musician Michael Gordon. These components set the tone of damages and fleeting memories suggesting an evocation of loss and death, however, Morrison said that it is not just a story of loss but one of continuation as, despite all odds, these pieces of found footage managed to survive in one form or another.

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